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My first book has been in various stages of the back burner for the past three years. At the end of 2015, I said, “Enough! I’m going to finish it once and for all!”
In July of this year, I set aside a month to write this book. I ended up finishing all 75,000 words of it in 14 days.
The book is for the person who wants to achieve greatness. It’s for anyone who wants to create additional streams of income or become a master at their craft. Whether you’re a leader or simply broke, without the support of their family, and feel like you don’t have enough time in the day, this book will give you clarity. It will help you create the life you want.
There are 26 chapters (you can see the full list at OverlapBook.com). Before this recording, I asked the members of the Community which of the 26 chapters they most wanted to hear me talk about.
Here were the top three chapters people were interested in:
- Increasing Your Focus
- Teaching What You Know
- Choosing What to Be Known For
In this episode, I give you an in-depth look at the three above chapters to give you an idea of the depth of this book.
Overlap is being printed as a beautiful, clothbound, embossed, hardcover book. I wanted to produce an item that felt as timeless as the message it contains.
The book is available for pre-order now and there’s a special bundle order that includes an exclusive print for anyone so kind as to support the project in its early stages.
I hope you enjoy.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- To find your passion, you have to enter into an exploratory phase. Do something and see if you like the act of doing it. The act of doing something and the idea of it are two very different things.
- Every time you break your focus, you’re setting money on fire.
- Focus is the single greatest asset you can have.
- Don’t just minimize distractions, prevent even the possibility of interruptions.
- It’s not time that you’re short on, it’s focus. Focus helps you make time.
- All you need to know to teach is more than any other one person.
- There has never been a better time for you to teach. Start now.
- Teaching audits yourself and helps you understand what you do.
- The thing you choose to pursue next almost certainly won’t be the thing you do for the rest of your life—this should take the pressure off picking the “right” thing. It’s just a stepping stone.
- You’re going to be overlapping in one way or another for the rest of your life, so you might as well learn to do it purposefully.
- Learn to see things in seasons of passions and embrace the season you’re in.
- Pick something and start doing it. Don’t worry about it being the “right” thing—it will lead you to the next thing.
- 00:47 Sean: I’m taking you inside my book in this episode. The book is called Overlap. Long time listeners are very familiar with this. I used to call it The Overlap Technique, and it still is about that, but I just simplified it. I call it Overlap because, in July, I set out to write several books, and I made them all one word titles: Overlap, Curate, and Reciprocity. If you’re interested, you can go to WritingaBookinaMonth.com, where I journaled the whole process of writing this book in a month. I explain everything that happened.
- 01:25 I ended up consolidating all three books into one, because it made a lot more sense. I stuck with the name, Overlap, and the tagline of the book is Get From the Life You Have to the Life You Want. This book is a long time coming. Some of you have been listening since 2013, when this podcast started, and I first talked about overlapping in the very first episode of this podcast. Since then, I have revisited the topic a number of times. October of 2015, I decided that I needed to finish this book, that I needed to take off a month and write it all in a month, or it was never going to be done.
- 02:07 I kept putting it on the back burner, and it wasn’t getting done. I knew I had to set aside time for it. In October of 2015, I planned out the whole year, all of 2016. I planned it out with my team, and I set aside the month of July to write this book. I ended up finishing the book, about 75,000 words, in 14 days. I journaled the whole thing, as I mentioned earlier. I’m streaming this live to the Community members as I always do, and they were saying that they wanted to hear about the process and what went into it. I need to do a show on writing a book, but this episode is about the actual content of the book.
- 02:56 I’m going to talk about who it’s for. I’m going to share some insights, excerpts, and passages from the book itself—from three chapters. There are 26 chapters, and I shared them all in the Community, where the members voted on the top three:
- Increasing Your Focus
- Teaching What You Know
- Choosing What to Be Known For
- 03:23 If you’re anything like the members, these topics will probably resonate with you. I’m really excited to go over them and share them with you. The book is available for preorder now. I don’t have an exact date for when the book will launch as of this recording, but it will be in the first half of 2017. There’s a bundle available as a special offer for those that preorder, which includes the eBook, the hardcover, the audio book, and a limited edition letterpress print.
- 04:11 I thought, “I don’t know about preorders. I would rather wait until people can buy it and it’s on their doorstep two days later. How cool would that be?” I could do that. However, we’ve got seanwes conference coming up, and it’s going to cost us nearly $100,000 to put it on. That’s taking all of our resources right now. This book is going to be a hardcover book, clothbound, embossed, beautiful. I’m licensing the typeface for it. I’m going all out, because I want this to be premium.
- 04:46 I want it to be something you’re proud to own and something you would give as a gift. That’s not cheap. I never wanted this first book to be something cheap. It was never something to even make money. In fact, if you’re on the newsletter, I’m going to give you a code to get the audiobook for free when this launches next year. I’m not even after money—I just want to help people, and I want this to spread. I also want it to be a really nice book, and nice books are expensive to produce. I could save up however much it’s going to cost—$20,000, $40,000, $60,000, or $80,000, to do a run of a book of this level, but it’s going to be a lot longer before I get this book in your hands.
- 05:32 I should allow people to support me. They’ve been listening for years. They believe in what I do and in this message, and they want to support the book project. At OverlapBook.com I decided that I’m going to make preorders available.
If you preorder Overlap, you can help make this project a reality and get your book a lot sooner than if I had to save up all the money myself.
- 05:51 It’s also a chance for me to reward your loyalty and get you that special bundle, if you preorder.
What Is the Overlap Technique?
- 06:04 Long time listeners know about overlapping. Overlapping is building up a financial foundation for yourself, where you have a day job that covers 100% of your bills to get you out of Scarcity Mindset. You’ve got everything covered, and then on the side, you figure out what you want to do, become good at that thing, build an audience for it, and eventually, maybe, possibly, hopefully, someday, you can be supported in doing that thing. You’re doing the work you love, you’re supported in doing it full time, and you can pay your bills. How great would that be?
- 06:39 That’s the process of overlapping. There’s a lot of nuance to it, a lot of detail. The day job, for instance, needs to be in a different industry than your passion. Otherwise, you’re going to end up spending the kind of energy you need for your passion at your day job. The day job is not the right type of environment to facilitate that passion. You are going to kill the passion. You have to protect the passion. There are four steps:
- Find your passion.
- Protect your passion.
- Invest in it.
- Monetize it.
- 07:20 Everyone wants to monetize first. “I like doing this thing… How can I make some money?” Hold up! You have to go about this systematically and purposefully. Otherwise, you’re going to end up killing your passion. Everyone knows someone who quit their job, went to pursue what they love to do, and ended up hating it. We all know someone like that. It became a job for them. Why did it become a job? Because they started it prematurely. It’s like a sapling, a little tree. You can lean against a big oak. You can put your weight against it, and it’s fine. If you lean against a sapling, you crush and break it. Someone could trample on it.
- 08:04 Animals could eat it. It’s not ready. You have to put a fence around that tree, protect it, and nourish it. You have to grow it in a safe environment until it can stand on its own and actually support you.
What’s in the Book?
- 08:21 I’m going to give you the chapter list so you get a sense of what’s inside this book, and then we’re going to zoom in. Chapter one is Finding Your Passion—I title things based on what you want, what you’re looking for, not based on what I know you need. You think you need to find your passion, to come up with the idea. “Am I thinking of the right thing? Am I really passionate about this?”
A lot of people have ideas of what they’re passionate about, but the idea of something and the act of doing it are two very different things.
- 08:53 Writing a book was the hardest thing I ever did. It sounds super silly saying it. What’s the big deal? You write a little bit, write a little bit more, and you do that a bunch of times, right? Yes, but that’s really hard. If you’ve done it, you know. I wrote the whole book in 14 days, which probably has something to do with it. It was really hard. Writing a book is nothing like the idea of being a bestselling author.
- 09:45 The idea of being a bestselling author is great. It’s awesome. The act of writing a book may not be so glamorous. I won’t say that it’s not awesome, because I’ve come to enjoy the process of writing. My focus is on the conclusion. What is the result of me writing and sharing my message? People’s lives are changed. They’re impacted and made better. That perspective makes me enjoy the process, the act of doing it.
- 10:15 There’s the act of doing something and the idea of doing it. Most people have the idea of something. They think they like the idea of something, and they don’t really know if they like the act of doing it. You have to enter into an exploratory phase where you do, you try something out, and you act without putting the pressure of having to monetize on that passion. Don’t put that pressure on it. Don’t build an audience. Don’t share your work. Don’t try to make money. Just do, just try. You don’t even have to embrace this as your identity.
Do something and explore, see if you like the act of doing it.
- 10:56 I’m starting to zoom a little bit too much into the chapter. I wanted to give you a high level overview of all of the chapters. We’ve got:
- Finding Your Passion
- Setting a Big Goal
- The Day Job
- Scarcity Mindset
- How To Make More Time
- Increasing Your Focus
- Waking Up Early
- Getting People On Board
- Deliberate Practice
- Curing Perfectionism
- The Four Stages of Overlapping
- Money Mindset
- Full Price or Free
- The Trifecta
- Doing Client Work
- Selling Products
- Teaching What You Know
- They’re Going to Put You in a Box
- Choosing What to Be Known For
- Elevator Pitch Clarity
- 4 Keys to Growing an Audience
- Attracting Clients With Case Studies
- The Rule of Reciprocity
- Relationship Marketing
- You Must Sell
- You’re Always Overlapping
Who Is This Book For?
- 11:55 That’s the entirety of this book, all of its chapters. You might be thinking, “Some of those sounded pretty cool, but who is this book for? Who did you write this book for, Sean?” The shortest answer is that this book is for the person who wants to achieve greatness. If you’re someone who wants to achieve greatness, this book will be invaluable to you. This book will change your life. I don’t say that lightly. I say it very solumnly and seriously, because I put the past several years into this book. Yes, I wrote it in 14 days, but it’s because I started writing it two years ago.
- 12:30 I got 20,000 words in and I scrapped it. I did 280 podcast episodes and 180 videos. I talked with people in the Community, went back and forth on email, I asked people what their struggles were, and I wrote, rewrote, and threw away. I revised. I got feedback from people, started hearing testimonials. “I did what you said, I tried this out. Here were the results.” That’s what is so awesome about this book and what’s kind of awesome about my procrastination. It’s this stew that’s been sitting on the back burner getting tastier all the time. It’s for the person who wants to achieve greatness. It’s going to help you.
- 13:11 Are you completely and thoroughly satisfied with every aspect of your life? If so, this book is not for you. However, if there’s any aspect of your life that you want to improve, if you want to make more money, achieve greatness, and become a master of your craft, this book is for anyone who wants to get from the life they have to the life they want. It’s a very practical step by step guide on how to do that. Yes, it’s for the person who’s in a day job, hates their job, and wants to start their own business. Yes, it is for someone who wants to create additional streams of income. It’s also for anyone who wants to become a master at their craft or who is broke and doesn’t have their money right or who doesn’t have the support of their family.
- 13:53 This book will help you. I wish I could go into the entire book. I’m just getting into it, but all we have time for today is three sections. I’m going to give you a sense of what’s inside just three of the 26 chapters at a high level.
Increasing Your Focus
Focus is the single greatest asset you can have.
In an age where distractions are readily available, the self-discipline to resist distractions and enter into deep focus is rare.
- 15:22 Writing this book in two weeks has been the most intellectually challenging thing I’ve ever done. The writing itself is not the hard part. I’m passionate about these ideas. It’s maintaining the extreme focus for extended periods of time that is so demanding. If you develop the ability to focus, the rewards are great. You can accomplish the same amount of work in less time, or you can get twice as much work done in the same time. When you complete more work in less time, that means one of two things: either greater freedom or more accomplishments.
- 15:59 That’s the first paragraph or two opening this chapter, and I’m not going to get super meta, but I’m just going to frame the context of this episode. I’m going to dodge in and out of sharing exact passages from the book and high level insights to keep the pace going. Some of this is what you’ll hear in the book and other parts are me tying things together and keeping the pace. Today’s workforce is distracted. On average, every 10.5 minutes a worker is interrupted. That’s not the worst part. Studies have shown that it takes, on average, 23 minutes to regain focus. This means that a seven minute interruption costs you a half hour in actual focused work time.
- 16:46 Think about what an hour of your time is worth. What is half an hour of your time worth? That is the price of a single interruption. Every time you break your focus, you’re setting money on fire. The top 10% of productive employees don’t work longer than anyone else. We all have 24 hours in a day. They enter into deep periods of focus ranging from 50 to 90 minutes and break up their day with short breaks in between these focused blocks of time.
If you can manage to construct even a single 90 minute block of uninterrupted focus time, you can accomplish more than what most people do in an eight hour day.
- 17:42 If you can schedule multiple 90 blocks of focus time in a day, separated by breaks, you will be that much further ahead. The notion of needing more time is a false one. You don’t need more time. It’s not time that you’re short on, it’s focus that you’re short on. You don’t need more time. You need more focused time. Many people try to do too many things at once, and you can’t multitask. That’s the problem. You can only switch between things, and switching wastes your energy. Switching between tasks kills your focus and makes you less effective at each thing you’re doing.
- 18:19 There are two ways to get free of distractions and three things you need to do. The two methods of getting free of distractions are minimizing them as they happen and preventing the possibility of interruptions. Minimizing is an in-the-moment thing. You’re doing work, you’re focused, and something happens to you. Something distracts you. Something pops up, makes a noise, or vibrates. That’s a distraction. Ignoring it, turning it off, and putting it aside is minimizing it. However, you just spent energy and pulled yourself out of focus. It’s good to minimize distractions, but it’s not enough.
You can’t just minimize them—you must prevent the possibility of interruptions.
- 19:06 You have to prevent that. “How can I possibly prevent that? I get interruptions all the time.” You can blame other people and say that they interrupted you, but it’s like I say about responsibility and excuses. They have one thing in common: you will find whichever one you’re looking for. I encourage you to seek responsibility rather than to blame, to make excuses. Instead of saying, “That person interrupted me,” why not take ownership? Say, “I neglected to communicate to them how they should expect me to be available and when they should expect me to be available.” Communication is your job.
- 19:46 The way you prevent interruptions, even the possibility of them, is communication. There’s a whole chapter on communicating with people and getting people on board, especially your family, especially if you’re doing your own thing, especially if you’re working from home. You’ve got to get your family on board. They have to know in advance where you’re going to be and when you’re going to be focusing. That will prevent them from interrupting you. It will help you focus, but also, if you don’t do it, if you don’t do your work, show up, and engage in your focused block of time, they’re going to say, “What are you doing? I thought you were going to be working in your office?” You have another layer of accountability.
- 20:27 I’m going to keep that one sort of high level. There’s a lot more practical stuff in there about getting rid of distractions and interruptions and taking responsibility. I talk about silence. I talk about my background as the oldest of 13 kids. Growing up in a house with over a dozen people, how I coped with the noise, how it affected me, how I had to change that later on and the difference between concentrating with white noise and silence.
Teaching What You Know
- 21:03 This is what people wanted to hear most, or second most. When you think of making money, teachers probably aren’t the first people that come to your mind, especially in the context of traditional schooling. That is definitely the case. Not all teachers are school teachers. Teaching is something anyone can do in any field, and you only need one thing to teach. You need to know more about something than any one other person. Just a single person!
If there’s one person in the world who knows less than you about a thing, you can teach.
- 21:41 Teaching comes in many forms. You probably think of someone in front of a chalk board or a white board with desks in a school or something, but teaching comes in many forms. You can do consulting, coaching, workshops, classes, speaking, and more. You could write a guide or a book. It’s not just limited to a classroom, and it doesn’t have to be your only source of income. You don’t have to think of it as your identity. “I don’t want to be a teacher…” Teachers don’t teach because they’re teachers; they’re teachers because they teach. It’s not that someone is a teacher, this is their identity, and they were just born that way, so of course they teach because they’re a teacher.
- 22:31 They’re teachers because they teach. What does it take to teach? It takes knowing more about a given topic than any one other person. Anyone can teach. You shouldn’t be afraid to teach. You don’t have to be a master to teach. This is the most common struggle people have. They think they need to be a master to teach, when actually, the masters are somewhat disadvantaged. I talk about the different levels in this chapter. Let’s say a level 10 is a master, and you’re not a beginner, a level 1, but maybe you’re a level 4 or a 5. The disadvantage of the level 10 person is that they’re so far removed from the level 1 person that they’re out of touch.
- 23:23 If you ask a billionaire how to make your first $1,000, you’re not going to get very practical advice. Why? Isn’t a billionaire likely to be super smart and knowledgable about money? Yes, but the mindset required to be a billionaire is so far removed from the mindset required to make your first $1,000 that they would be nearly incapable of giving you any practically available advice as a novice in business. The billionaire can tell you how to make a million, because that’s small to them. Their mindset and context is so far removed from making that first grand that they really can’t speak your language.
- 23:59 It would be like asking the average earner how to make a penny. If someone asked you that, your mind would explode. It’s so commonplace to you that you would say, “Pick it up off the ground.” It’s not practical. You understand the early struggles better than a master does. That’s what qualifies you to teach, because you’re able to speak the language of the newcomer better than someone who hasn’t been in that position for years. You intimately know the fears and the struggles of this person because you were recently in their shoes.
There has never been a better time for you to teach—if you wait, you may be too late.
- 24:47 You might be afraid that what you could teach is too basic. You might be worried that everyone already knows what you have to teach or that someone that’s more knowledgable is going to come along and laugh. They’re going to ridicule you because they already know what you’re teaching. You’re not teaching those people. The masters are too busy to spend even a minute of their time correcting your teaching. I’m sorry, but you’re not that important. They have better things to do than to ridicule someone for teaching basic concepts that they already know. Think about that for a minute.
- 25:16 There’s always someone who can learn something from you. If you’ve ever learned anything in your life, you can teach. Don’t wait until you’re an expert to teach. A lot of people think you have to be an expert to teach, but it’s the other way around—leaders are seen as experts because they teach. You see people as experts because they teach. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that they teach because they’re experts. Also, don’t be afraid to be wrong, even if you are wrong. A lot of people are afraid of this. They say, “What if I don’t really know what I’m talking about and I find out that I’m wrong? I probably shouldn’t start teaching if I’m not sure, right?”
- 25:58 Very few people are sure, and those who are sure are still prone to error. If you are wrong, it provides yet another teaching opportunity, another trust building opportunity. If you found out you were wrong and you said something incorrect, you now have the opportunity to correct yourself in public. When people see that honesty and transparency, they’ll trust you all the more and they’ll want to continue following you, because they know that whenever you discover an area where you were wrong, you’re going to show them. Think about how huge that is.
- 26:35 You learn from people. You look up to people. You have teachers. How would you like to have certainty, and see an example of one of those teachers admitting that they were wrong, showing you how they were wrong, and telling you what they’re going to do to fix it and prevent it in the future? Would that not build your trust in this person and make you want to learn even more from this person than had they never made a mistake in the first place? You’re missing out on that trust and that loyalty by not teaching what you know now. I do want to get one thing straight, though, and this is important.
Don’t teach from inexperience.
You have no business teaching if you have no experience.
- 27:18 I’m not talking about faking it. Get experience first. If you do have experience, don’t let age or mastery be a deterrent. Teach what you know! Don’t teach what you don’t know, but if you know things, then teach them. If you don’t know anything, go learn. Iterate in public. Share what you learn. Teach what you know. Teach as you’re learning. Gary Vaynerchuck recently had an excellent word to the young person who’s wondering, “How do I go out there and share what I know? I’m just a beginner.” I love this.
- 27:57 He had a recent video on this, and I don’t even think the video was about this. I hope he pulls it out and makes it its own video. For me, it really resonated. It’s this: document over create. People say, “How do I teach people? How do I create content that will move people or position me as an expert?” Gary says, “You’re just starting out. You’re just getting started. Document instead of create. Share the journey. Instead of saying, ‘This is what you do,’ when you haven’t done it and you don’t have any experience. Say, ‘This is what I’ve done. This is what’s working for me.'” Share what you’re learning and share your journey.
- 28:41 Don’t wait to teach. Do not let your age prevent you from teaching. If you’re waiting until you’re old enough to be trusted, you’re too late. The 20 year olds say, “I’m not old enough to be taken seriously.” The 40 year olds say, “I’m not young enough to be taken seriously.” The 30 year olds think they have it the worst of all. No one is happy. Start now! If you wait until you’re old enough to be trusted, you’re too late. If you think you’re not young enough to be taken seriously, you never will be. The benefits of teaching are immense, and I talk about a lot of those benefits in this chapter.
- 29:25 If you want to become good at something, teach others how to do it. Nothing will make your realize how little you know about a subject until you try to teach someone. You hear someone else teach something basic and you think, “I know that!” Why don’t you teach it? They’re going to be seen as an expert because they teach. I guarantee you that you don’t know your stuff as well as they do because they teach.
Teaching audits yourself and helps you understand what you do.
- 30:06 You have so many holes in your process, so many things you do without thinking. You want to become good at something? Teach others how to do it. There’s no faster way than teaching to realize how little you know about something. It will force you to research, to audit yourself and your process. Break down your process when you teach. Ask yourself, “How do I do this? Why do I do it this way? What steps do I take? What tools do I use?” For people to see you as someone that they would buy a course or a book from, they need to perceive you as an authority. If you want to be seen as an expert, start teaching. There’s so much in this chapter.
- 30:57 Ask yourself what you can do better than the competition. You can do workshops or courses and there’s even more in the full chapter.
Choosing What to Be Known For
- 31:19 What do you want to be known for? This can be a daunting question, because choosing an area to specialize in can feel like a very scary decision to make. It can feel like you’re saying no to everything else forever, and you’re good at a bunch of things. If you’re like me, you’re good at a ton of things. You can draw, paint, play music, speak, write, manage, lead, develop, build systems… you can do so many things. How do you pick one thing? It can feel like you’re saying no to everything else, like you’re doing yourself a disservice.
- 32:01 Really, this is just a stepping stone, just a season. This thing you do is something you choose to pursue. I talk about the word pursuit in this book. It’s an important word. You can only pursue one thing. I made up this analogy of holding three foxes by the tail in a field and letting them go. Now, pursue all three of them. You can’t pursue three foxes, running, scrambling to get away, going in different directions. You can pursue one. If you try to pursue all three, you’ll reach none of them.
- 32:42 If you pursue one, you have a small chance of reaching it. I won’t nerd out too much on the word “pursuit”, but it’s a very important concept. The thing you choose to pursue doesn’t have to be the thing you do for the rest of your life, and it almost certainly won’t be. As a teaser to the last chapter, the last chapter of the book is called You’re Always Overlapping. Overlapping is a continual process. It’s all about building a solid foundation from which you can overlap to the next thing.
- 33:19 You may believe that you love what you do, so you don’t need to overlap anymore. Overlapping is for people stuck in a day job that hate their job, right? No. You need this book. Please get this book. If you think, “I have my business, I don’t work in a day job or hate my job, I don’t need to build a foundation, it’s not a big deal, I’m already happy and I’m doing what I love,” please get this book. You don’t realize the full content and affect of overlapping.
You will overlap in some way for the rest of your life, so do it purposefully.
- 33:49 I hope I can help you do it purposefully. To give you an idea, I want you to imagine that your life is broken up into seasons of passions. More than likely, the rest of your life will not be comprised of a single passion, but many passions. If you can picture a zoomed out look of the timeline of your life, the red dot is where you are right now. You might see something like five distinct seasons, seven seasons, or even 12 or more seasons. Now, look at the point on the timeline of your life, that red dot of where you are right now. You’re about to enter a new season. You’re going to choose one thing and curate that—selectively project a single, focused thing. You’re going to specialize.
- 34:38 You’re going to focus. This next thing doesn’t have to be the “right” thing. It doesn’t have to be the perfect thing. It’s just a stepping stone. The next thing is simply a step along the way to figure out what the next thing after that is. You don’t have to imagine yourself doing this forever. That’s one of the worst passion-discovering questions to ask yourself. Never ask yourself, “If I could do one thing for the rest of my life, what would I do?” That’s a horrible question. It’s unnecessarily crippling. Don’t try to pick the thing you’ll do for the rest of your life. It’s impossible to guess.
- 35:17 Maybe the next thing you specialize in will be the thing you do for the rest of your life, but it probably won’t be, and it’s pointless to try and predict. What’s important is approaching this next thing intentionally so that it can serve as a foundation, a springboard to your next thing—just like your day job is your foundation now, this next thing you pursue will become the new foundation for whatever you do after that. You’re continually overlapping. It can only be a solid foundation if you approach it purposefully and in a curated fashion. Choosing to curate and specialize in one area does require saying no to everything else, but you’re not saying no forever. You’re not saying no to music, videography, drawing, painting, developing, or coaching forever. It’s just for now. It’s just for a season.
Learn to see things in seasons of passions and embrace the season you’re in.
- 36:24 Some seasons will feel long and others will feel short. When the spring changes to the summer, we don’t lament, because we know that spring will be around again soon. Remember that specializing doesn’t mean you can’t do other things. If you want to be known as a designer but you enjoy playing music, you can still play music! You would simply refrain from projecting things, such as music, that don’t contribute to your being known as a designer. Almost everyone is a generalist. Fewer people are specialists. Those who are specialists are also good at many things, just like generalists. They simply choose to curate their output and become known for one of those things, and they’re able to make more money because of it.
- 37:11 Meanwhile, the generalists, who project all of the many things they’re good at, project nothing and make less money. Specialists are generalists who made a choice. They weren’t born that way. You’re not special. You’re not tormented. We are all good at multiple things. We are all interested in many things. It’s not that other people who are known for one thing are lucky. It’s not that they were blessed with one single interest and they never had to go through the struggle of picking something to pursue and saying no to other things—it’s that they learned to focus.
No one gets good at many things by doing them all at once.
- 37:52 You’re good at piano because you took lessons and you had to practice every day. You’re good as a developer because you worked at an agency for three years. You’re great at videography because you spent an entire summer volunteering at camps where you spent ten hours a day filming. You’re good at cooking because you’ve cooked nearly every single day of your life as long as you can remember. The things that come naturally to you come naturally because you’ve done them thousands of times. Blazing a straight path from where you are now to where you think you want to be doesn’t work.
- 38:24 You can’t ignore the actual journey that it takes to get there, and it’s not a straight line. Everyone has to do many things before they figure out the one thing. You have to try, you have to do, you have to pursue many things until you find what you want to be known for.
Build Your Passions One at a Time
- 38:50 I’ll leave you with a story. Imagine you’re on the beach and you can feel the sand between your toes. I just got back from a sabbatical, a little vacation. We went to a gulf beach in Florida. This is a recent memory for me. I can vividly imagine the feel of sand between my toes. It’s dusk, and it’s starting to get cool. There are five glowing fire pits on this beach, each representing a passion of yours.
- 39:13 You’re running around blowing on the embers and trying to stoke the fires, but each is barely lit and nearly dead. No matter how hard you work, you’re barely keeping them from dying. You can’t ever sit back and enjoy the warmth and the light of a roaring fire because all of your energy is spent keeping five of them barely alive. If you were ever to focus on a single fire and invest all your time and energy into it, you could build it up into a bonfire. A bonfire is an asset.
- 39:47 It continues roaring on its own, requiring no maintenance from you. You sit back and enjoy the warmth, and that’s it. You’re done. This does two things for you. First, you can now direct your energy to the second fire pit and spend your time building it up to bonfire status. Now you have two bonfires, or assets. Meanwhile, the first bonfire is so huge that it can be seen from miles around, and it starts to attract people. These people didn’t even know you existed when you had five fire pits with warm coals in them. Now, they’re watching you build up the second and the third fires one at a time.
- 40:25 You have attention and you have assets. It was never about the first fire. It was about what the first fire afforded. It gave you the ability to focus. First, you were known as the person with one fire. Now, you’re known as the person with three fires, four fires, and maybe even five fires, but only because you focused on one at a time. In an alternate universe, there’s a version of you that’s still running around on this beach, stoking five fire pits, all of them small and cold. This person has no audience, no assets, and no warmth.
You have to pick something and start doing it, focus on it.
- 41:11 You’ve given yourself too many options. The freedom that comes from giving yourself so many options is paralyzing. You have no clarity. Pick one thing and go all out on it. If you find out that you don’t like doing it, that’s progress. Move on to the next thing. Every step is forward motion. You’re going to learn things now that apply to the next thing you do in the future. The most difficult thing is starting. You have to pick something and go. That was the chapter that most people wanted to hear from, so that was the chapter that I shared most of. I really like that chapter, and I hope that story gives you some clarity and a fresh perspective on yourself.
- 41:56 I hope it makes you feel a little bit better about not knowing what you want to be known for and not knowing what to choose as the next thing you do. The first fire is never about the first fire. It’s about learning to focus, building up an asset, and getting something that can support you and live on its own. That’s what that first fire is about. That’s what the first thing is about. It’s not about what you do for the rest of your life. It’s about being the stepping stone to the next thing.
- 42:35 I’m super excited about this book. That’s three. We just did a high level overview of three chapters, and there are 26 chapters in this book. I really want you to go get this book. Go to OverlapBook.com and preorder it, because there’s a bundle if you do. I’m going to ship it to you, and yes, we ship internationally. You’re going to support this project. You’re going to make it possible for me to get this book in your hands sooner, and you give me the opportunity to reward you for investing in this project sooner. I hope this teaser gives you a sense of the depth that’s in this book.
Types of Writers
- 43:24 When I teach on writing, I talk about how there are two different types of people. There are people who have trouble with rambling—they talk too much in their writing and their speaking. Then there are people who have trouble elaborating. All they say is their point and nothing more, and the problem is that it’s not very compelling. Of those two people, both can improve their writing. I provide resources on that. It’s fresh on my mind because I’m writing this mini-course, 30 Days to Better Writing, and it’s included for free for members. Go to seanwes.com and become a member, and you get access to all the backlogs, the hundreds of episodes, the other resources, the learning paths, and these new mini-courses coming out.
- 44:09 Things like, if you have trouble with rambling or elaborating, I help you out with that. What I wanted to point out here is that, of those two people, I am totally the person who has trouble elaborating. You know me. You’ve heard me on the show, especially with Ben. The contrast brings out my personality a little bit more. I just say things like they are. I don’t mince words. I don’t waste time. I say what I have to say and I move on. That’s nice, it doesn’t waste people’s time, but it’s not always super compelling. My challenge has been writing and speaking in a compelling way when all I want to say is my point.
- 44:45 There are some tips for doing that. Support your point, imagine the objections, answer them preemptively, and things like that. This book is 75,000 words, 26 chapters, all very much like what you just heard in this episode, coming from a person who just says it like it is and wastes no time. What you heard is before editing. I haven’t even sent this off to an editor. That’s just me sharing what I have right now. This book is jam-packed. It’s condensed. If you would support me and preorder that book, it would mean the world. If you’ve gotten anything from this episode—any clarity, any insights from the past 282 episodes, I hope you support me and order this book at OverlapBook.com.